Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saying good-bye to my friend Cara

Dear Cara,

I find it impossible to express what you mean to me through a facebook status update or something else where my words are limited so I thought I'd express myself in a letter to you. The last time I saw you was when you came to my yoga class right before Christmas. I always got excited to see you when you popped your head in the door because I knew you had to drive all the way from Boulder to city park which isn't an easy task. You were always so good about coming to my yoga classes even though I never once attended one of your pole dancing or acro yoga classes that you taught although I always had best intentions of coming. Once I got the pleasure of taking your yoga class after you completed yoga training and I thought it was fantastic. I'm pretty sure you are fantastic at everything you ever taught. I had you demonstrate piking up for my yoga class from a head stand because I wanted to show you off to my students even though I know you didn't like the spotlight. They were in awe of you moving so effortlessly and looking so light and free. You didn't get to see their faces but I did and I can tell you they were impressed.

We all were.

You are the type of friend that I can't even remember how we became friends. It feels like we just always were friends and that's how it would always be. You were one of the few people who was always down to hike 14ers with me. I took you up Humboldt peak for your first one and I remember you brought me a carton of eggs from your chickens because I drove us. That was not an easy hike by any means and I never once heard you complain. We talked about the big things, the little things and the in-between things. I was surprised at how we never actually ran out of things to talk about because, like me, you could talk about just about anything to anyone. We were the only people on top of the mountain that day and we took our time taking pictures and enjoying the view. You told me you were thinking about moving to Louisiana in the next year or so and I remember thinking that I didn't want you to go because you were such a great hiking companion and there are so few people I could count on like you. I never told you I was glad you didn't move but I am.

This year we hiked Mt. Antero together - another 14er and I thought again it would be just me and you because you were the only one who committed to the hike. I loved how when you said you were going to do something you'd be there 100%. Even though two of our other friends came with us you and I got to talk a lot because you sat up front to keep me awake on the midnight drive there and the exhausting drive home. You kept me awake with your stories about your chickens, your family, your dogs and teaching and you let me vent about my frustrations. There aren't too many people you meet in life who you can pour your heart out to like I felt like I could do with you. As wonderful of a talker as you are you are also a great listener. I hope you know that.
You told me this was your favorite photo of you that I took on our Antero hike

I want you to know how much I will miss you. I'll miss seeing your photos on facebook and instagram of your dogs on sunset walks. I'll miss being your partner in gymnastics classes at Qi. I'll miss those delicious eggs you always gifted me from your chickens. I'll miss hearing about the sugar gliders and the foster dogs that always ripped up your house. I'll miss your laugh and seeing your face popping unexpectedly through the door at the yoga studio at 9:30 on a Monday morning. I'll miss having someone to hike with and hula hoop with and having a road trip buddy. I never got a chance to take your acro yoga class although I said I was going to go and for that I'm sorry. I thought I had more time with you than I did. Most of all I will miss our talks.

The last time I saw you right before Christmas we spent time after yoga talking about your sister who was pregnant and what you should buy her for a present. You looked to me for advice since I had just had a baby and in your words you were totally freaked out by kids. We talked about cloth diapers and baby carriers, about your new tattoo of the scene from the Little Prince and a bunch of other things that don't even seem to matter anymore. So many little things we talked about for an hour or so until I had to go. You apologized I remember, thinking that you were taking up my time because you said that you didn't have anything to do and just wanted to hang out. I should have invited you for coffee and talked longer. I'd give anything to have that last day back with you so we could talk just a little bit more instead of rushing to the next thing.

The one thing I don't regret is hugging you. I know you are not a hugger (and I am) but I made you hug me goodbye when we left that day and parted ways. I said, "Cara, we are friends and friends have to hug!" I didn't care if it made you uncomfortable because I just wanted to thank you for making the drive to come and take class so I hugged you. I'm really glad I did that.

I hope you know Cara how much our friendship means to me. You are someone who I have no clear memory on how you came into my life yet I'll always remember how you left. I'm grateful for the time I did get to spend with you even if it wasn't enough. I'll see you in every blue sky on top of every mountain  I hike. I'll see you in every walk I take with my dog when the sun sets. I'll remember you in yoga and gymnastics classes. Monday mornings won't be the same without you. An empty void is what I feel without your physical presence on this earth.

You'll never be far from my mind I want you to know. You touched a lot of people and you should know that as well. Your spirit will shine on and live on here in us and through us.

Until we meet again my friend...

"I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye" - Life of Pi

For those who would like to help Cara's family with their expenses for her funeral etc. please follow the link below set up by the family:

Friday, December 13, 2013

How the Grinch stole Christmas...(and we got it back)

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude isn’t something you would probably normally feel after getting your debit card number stolen and having your checking account wiped out. I will admit it’s been a bit of a struggle to get back on track financially after having a baby. Not having a paycheck and no disability insurance for 7 months will do that to you. I know I’m not the best at managing money but paying bills, daycare costs and a mortgage are struggles enough without someone swiping your debit card number and having a Dillard’s shopping spree. Honestly if the tab had been for gas, groceries, even Babies R’ Us I might have been more understanding. Cleaning someone out so you can feed your shopping addiction is just criminal especially this time of year when money is already tight. With our funds in limbo we knew getting a Christmas tree was not going to be an option anymore. How can you afford what’s not a necessity when you should be buying groceries?

I was devastated. Not for me…but for Charlotte.

I know Charlotte is only 8 months old now but I wanted a Christmas tree for her. She doesn’t have memories right now and won’t for awhile so it’s up to me to be the keeper or her memories. It’s up to me, I believe, to thread together the story of her childhood and her early days; to remember for both of us. Even if I couldn’t put a damn thing under the tree I wanted to have that for her. To see her face light up when we turned it on and to decorate it and hang her baby’s first Christmas ornament on there. As long as I could remember I’ve had a tree. Even when my parents got divorced and life got shitty my mother made sure we still had a tree. It was a glimmering beacon of hope to me in my childhood. A symbol that everything would be alright. If I couldn’t afford a tree for Charlotte, how would everything be alright?

So I put it out there to the universe. I am not one to ask for help. In fact I hate asking for help. When Charlotte was born and I had offers from friends to come and watch her while I napped or to cook me dinner, I would most often politely decline. I let a few close friends in but even then it was hard to say yes. My parents were never the type to ask for help and as a result we never got any. No one brought my mom casseroles over when we were born or watched us for free while my parents could have a date night. I never saw help being given so I never thought to ask for it myself. I maintained if I could get myself into a situation then I needed to get myself out. Yet after all the struggles in these past few months when I realized we couldn’t have a tree I hit the end of my rope. I needed help and I asked.

And I received. Wow did I ever receive.

Help. Help in the form of texts, phone calls, messages and more than 40 offers from friends for a Christmas tree or money for a Christmas tree or just positive energy and advice. It brought tears to my eyes knowing what a great community of friends I had out there. For the first time in my life I said yes. Yes to help, yes to friends being friends and yes to the kindness. It’s not like I want to be seen as a charity case I just finally got the balls to admit I couldn’t do it all. Our friend Amie showed up on our doorstep with groceries and dinner all I had to do was say the word. Another friend gave me a generous loan to help us through the holidays. I have never felt so loved or humble in all my life. I asked my own aunt for a loan and she turned me down. Thank goodness for good friends right?

Do you remember the end of How the Grinch stole Christmas? Where the grinch is on top of the hill after stealing all the presents and he looks down on the town expecting them to be sad? Instead all the towns’ people are gathered around this glowing beacon of light in the center of the town and they are singing and smiling. Then the grinch realizes, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store…maybe Christmas means just a little bit more.” The townspeople had everything stolen for them but they had each other and that’s all they really needed. I don’t need gifts under my tree…to me it isn’t as important what’s under there as it is who is standing around it. That’s all I wanted was that symbol of hope for me…for my family.

Of all the offers my friend Ann was the sneaky ninja who sent me a message, set a date, came over and took me and Charlotte out on a girls afternoon to shop for a tree. Her only stipulation was that it had to smell like pine. She graciously bought our tree and helped me set it up in our living room. She even carried it in the house for me! I let her put the star on top since she couldn’t stay to help decorate. I asked her how on earth I could repay her and she just responded that all I had to do was do something kind for someone else. If you’ve never met Ann she’s just like that. One of the most genuinely kind people I have ever met. If she hasn’t done anything kind for you it’s just because you haven’t gotten to know her yet…give her time and she will. It was amazing.

So this year when I look at the Christmas tree in our living room, I know I won’t be looking at MY tree…I’ll be looking at everyone’s tree. Every person out there who showed me what the spirit and true meaning of Christmas really is. To help someone who maybe never even helped you out just because you care. To help someone because you feel it’s the right thing to do. To help someone because you know what it would mean to you.

Someday I’ll show Charlotte this photo of her sitting in front of our tree at her first Christmas. I will tell her the story about how hard our lives seemed at the time and what it meant to us to have that tree for her. I will let Charlotte know that even if one person stole from us, 45 others gave back without even giving a second thought. To her she might only see a tree in the picture but when I look back on this year I’ll remember the hope that I feel now.

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store
maybe Christmas means just a little bit more…”